Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) Answers
When Your Heart Needs Help…
Your Doctor May Recommend Laser Atherectomy
Laser atherectomy is one of several treatments for coronary artery disease. Your doctor will study the results of your diagnostic tests and determine which of the available treatment options is most effective and recommend a course of action. If your doctor recommends laser atherectomy to help clear your heart arteries of blockages, you should know the following:
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Coronary arteries are the primary blood vessels that surround your heart and are responsible for providing blood and oxygen to your heart muscle. Coronary Artery Disease occurs when your coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked by a buildup of plaque (cholesterol or other materials). When the blockage is severe, the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart muscle is reduced, causing chest pain (called angina). This warning sign may mean you are in danger of having a heart attack.
Diagnostic tests are performed to determine whether you have coronary artery disease (CAD). These tests may include a diagnostic cardiac catheterization. A small, thin tube, called a catheter, is inserted into the main artery in your arm or leg and advanced to your coronary arteries. X-ray contrast dye is used with X-rays to identify blockages in the arteries and determine their severity, allowing the doctor to decide on an appropriate form of treatment.
Explanation of Procedure
The excimer laser coronary atherectomy procedure is similar to that of conventional coronary balloon angioplasty. Through a narrow, flexible tube, the laser catheter is inserted into an artery in your arm or leg. The laser catheter contains a bundle of optical fibers that transmit ultraviolet laser light. The laser catheter is advanced inside the coronary artery to the target obstruction, and pulsed laser energy vaporizes the plaque into particles that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Excimer laser atherectomy is often used in conjunction with stenting.
As with any surgical procedure, coronary atherectomy has risks. Talk with your doctor about the right choice for you.